At Wimbledon, Andy Murray ‘can still play at the highest level’

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WIMBLEDON, England — The Centre Court crowd roared when Andy Murray walked out onto the green grass for his first Wimbledon match in four years. He smiled and replied with a thumbs-up.

They roared some more when he claimed the first set of his first-round match Monday against 24th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili. And again when he claimed the second. And when he seemed on the verge of a stroll through the third.

That’s when things got complicated for Murray, who won the title at the All England Club in 2013 – giving Britain its first male champion there in 77 years – and again in 2016, but since has needed two hip operations and dealt with other assorted injuries. After wasting a pair of match points and ceding the third set, Murray – much to the fans’ delight and, naturally, his own – pulled out the seesaw of a victory over Basilashvili by the score of 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, eliciting more roars.

Those shouts just kept coming, interrupting the 34-year-old Murray while he did an interview on court.

“I keep getting asked: Is this going to be my last Wimbledon? Last match? I don’t know why I keep getting asked about it. Like, no. I’m going to keep playing. I want to play,” said Murray, pausing as the sound from the stands reached a crescendo.

“I’m enjoying it and I can still play at the highest level,” Murray said when he resumed speaking. “He’s ranked 28th in the world, and I’ve hardly played any matches. And I beat him.”

Sure did. But not without some hitches for the man who has been ranked No. 1 but is currently No. 118 after recently going three months without competing anywhere.

Murray was playing his sixth match of the season, 30 fewer than Basilashvili, whose Grand Slam highlight was a run to the fourth round of the 2018 U.S. Open.

“It’s been extremely frustrating not being able to get on the court and I’ve had such little momentum over these last few years. And just kept trying, kept working hard in the gym, kept doing all the right things to get me back in this position,” Murray said. “I feel very lucky I get to do it again.”

Up 5-0 in the third set, Murray was broken three times in a row and lost seven consecutive games. He twice was one point from winning while ahead 5-3 in that set, before briefly losing his way.

“That’s never happened to me before in my career,” Murray said. “But there are things that can happen when you haven’t played any matches.”

He said later he was dealing with fatigue and some doubts that crept into his mind.

There was a break after the third set so the arena’s retractable roof could be closed to protect from rain.

Murray said he took a shower and went to the bathroom.

He also regrouped and regained control.

“A lot of players would have capitulated there,” Murray said. “I did the opposite of that.”

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.